What is Dream?
Sarah Ellis: It’s exploring the future of live technology by reimagining Shakespeare’s play. We want to challenge and change how live performance can be experienced when it is no longer being bound by physical location.
What will the experience be like?
You experience Dream through a website, it’s as simple as that. You’ll click on a button and go into the performance and it will be wonderful! Entering the unreal world of the forest, you will meet avatars of Puck, Moth, Mustardseed, Peaseblossom and Cobweb performed by actors whose movements and facial expressions are rendered onto the characters in real time through motion capture and facial rigging technology.
Each performance is unique, as the audience behave differently at each event.
What is new and different about Dream to things I might have experienced before?
To date you will have mainly experienced videos of live performers on a stage. Instead of simply watching a performance, Dream will take you into that world using digital characters that are performed by live actors. We are using the latest gaming technology, live broadcast techniques, and performance technology to enable the actors and audience to interact with each other in real-time.
Who is it for?
Anyone can experience Dream from anywhere in the world. You can sit and watch it as a family or on your own.
The live performances are streamed to audiences at different times of the day and night, including a 2am GMT performance, so they are accessible to audiences across the world in different time zones, to individuals and their families and to schools.
What is the relationship between Dream and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Dream is inspired by Shakespeare’s play. It’s not a performance of the play, but it’s inspired by the world of the play and the themes of the play. And it’s such a brilliant play for now and for us to imagine what different worlds could be like.
What technology do I need to take part?
You need your computer, or a mobile phone or a tablet.
Do you have to be tech-savvy and understand the world of video games to make the most of it?
No. You don’t. You need to be curious and you need to be open, but that’s all you need. We’re making it using gaming technology but this is a piece of performance that we hope will inspire and delight you.
We’re hoping to bring people together to help them imagine what the future of theatre can be with us.
Dream is described as R&D and a prototype – where do you want it to go from here? Is this the future of theatre?
Where we hope it goes from here is that we will be able to embed some of these technologies into how we make theatre more generally.
I think this is part of where theatre is headed in the future, I don’t think it’s a homogenised situation, it’s a part. We are creating an ‘and’ not an ‘other’ or a ‘thing’. We are hopefully providing a new set of ways you can make theatre for future audiences.
How has lockdown and the pandemic affected Dream?
Last year we were due to do a performance in Stratford and that was obviously not possible. We started again effectively and thought about how we can make a piece of work that can meaningfully engage with audiences wherever they are.